Checklist: Helpful tips for New Orleans residents and their pets during hurricane season

Originally published in The New Orleans Advocate – June 10, 2019

Checklist: Helpful tips for New Orleans residents and their pets during hurricane season

Hurricane season is upon us, and the Louisiana SPCA is urging pet owners to make evacuation plans that include their animals.

According to the Louisiana SPCA, before Hurricane Katrina in 2005, an estimated 259,400 families owned pets in New Orleans. Because there was no formal evacuation plan for residents needing assistance or for those with pets, as many as 104,000 pets were left behind. Also, 44% of those who chose not to evacuate did so because they refused to leave their pets.

While we cannot control what this storm season brings, planning for a disaster is something we can control. Just as for the people in a household, pets require supplies and advance preparations, too. Plan for at least five days of supplies for pets in case of an evacuation.

Hurricane season checklist

1. Make sure vaccinations are up-to-date and have copies of all your pet’s medical records. Boarding facilities and veterinarian offices will require proof of immunization before accepting pets.

2. Make sure ID tags are up to date. The Louisiana SPCA’s Show Me Your ID event June 29-30 offers free ID tags for every pet in the household.

3. Get pets microchipped. This is a permanent form of identification that can be a pet’s round-trip ticket home in the event he gets lost. Need a microchip? Contact your vet or schedule an appointment at the Louisiana SPCA’s Community Clinic.

4. Compile a list of accommodations that are pet-friendly. Consider staying with family or friends outside of the evacuation area. Look into pet-friendly hotels, shelters or boarding facilities.

Evacuation supplies checklist

1. Food, medicines and plenty of water. Keep food and meds in an airtight, waterproof container.

2. Medical records and any other documents. Place copies of microchip information, registration, adoption papers, vaccination documents and medical records in a clear plastic bag or waterproof container.

3. Collar with ID tag with current information, harness and leash. Pets should wear a collar with current rabies tag and identification at all times.

4. Crate or other pet carrier. Carriers should be large enough for pets to stand up, completely turn around and lie down. Label the carrier with your name, address, phone number and an alternate contact.

5. Sanitation supplies. Include pet litter, newspapers, towels, plastic trash bags and cleaners to pick up after pets.

New Orleans residents who need assistance to evacuate with their pets are urged to register with the city to participate in the City Assisted Evacuation Plan and can register by calling 311. Louisiana SPCA’s New Orleans Humane Law & Rescue will assist city officials in safely evacuating owned animals.

For more information about planning for an evacuation with pets, visit

Traci D. Howerton is the volunteer coordinator for Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. For topic suggestions, email [email protected] or for more info on ARNO, visit